Dolphins lights out on third and short

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano is big on using stats to hammer a point.

I would imagine he's quite proud of this one.

The Dolphins lead the NFL in converting third downs of 2 yards or shorter. They have been in that situation 20 times this year and have moved the chains 17 times, a success rate of 85 percent. Here are the top five:

  1. Miami Dolphins, 85 percent (17 of 20)

  2. Indianapolis Colts, 80 percent (12 of 15)

  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 80 percent (8 of 10)

  4. Minnesota Vikings, 78.9 percent (15 of 19)

  5. Green Bay Packers, 75 percent (6 of 8)

"Short-yardage plays are considered attitude situations for teams," said NFL Network analyst and future Hall of Fame back Marshall Faulk. "Teams that execute on third down and pick up the first down are often thought of as tough, hard-nosed teams, especially when they run the football to get those first downs.

"It's instrumental for teams in this league to have the ability to convert third-and-short situations if you plan on making the playoffs."

The Dolphins rank first in rushing offense at a clip of 177 yards a game, 14 yards more than the No. 2 New York Jets.

Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown ranks third in among all rushers who have tried to convert at least 25 third downs of 2 yards or shorter since 2000. The list:

  1. Joseph Addai, Colts, 79.2 percent (42 of 53)

  2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, 77.8 percent (41 of 53)

  3. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins, 75.5 percent (40 of 53)

  4. Larry Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs, 74.7 percent (56 of 75)

  5. Brad Hoover, Carolina Panthers, 71.4 percent (25 of 35)